Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Immigration Raids In Postville Iowa

ICE Raids Meatpacking Plant - Up To 700 Arrests
Drugs, Abused Workers And Violations Of Iowa's Minimum Wage Law

Note: The Postville Agriprocessors plant is known as the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse and is northeast Iowa’s largest employer. The raid targeted people who illegally used other people's Social Security numbers and were in the U.S. illegally.

A total of 16 local, state and federal agencies, led by ICE, joined the investigation that began last October. Among them was the U.S. Marshals Service, the Iowa Department of Public Safety, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, the Waterloo Police Department and the Postville Police Department.

According to search warrants, ICE agents interviewed a former plant supervisor – identified as “Source 1” – in November 2007, who told them that the plant employed foreign nationals from Mexico, Guatemala and Eastern Europe. Roughly 80 percent of those workers were living illegally in the U.S., the supervisor said.

“Source 1” told federal agents that some employees were running a methamphetamine lab in the plant, and were bringing weapons to work. The supervisor confronted a higher-level manager about the drugs, and shortly after was fired.

A plant employee identified as “Source 11” told authorities that he/she was hired without presenting employment documents or filling out any forms. The worker’s first paycheck had a different person’s name on it, which was then cashed at another part of the plant.

Undocumented workers were paid $5 an hour for their first three or four months on the job, the employee said, and then received a salary increase to $6 per hour.
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